Sherry Week 2021 is November 8 to 14, and we’re joining in on the fun! If, to you, sherry is just something you remember your grandma enjoying, there’s so much more to learn and appreciate about this fine beverage, and no better time to get into it than now.
What is sherry?
Sherry is a dry, fortified wine from the far corner of southwestern Spain in Andalucía. It’s here in the Marco de Jerez region that sherry is woven into everyday life, as important as bullfighting and flamenco.
Dry sherry is made from the palomino ‘fino’ grape, and this Spanish region is the only place in the world that can coax delicious character traits out of the grape.
How sherry is made
Layer of flor in a sherry cask
Before aging, a small amount of grape spirit is added to raise the alcohol level of the wine. This determines what style of sherry will be produced: Fino or Oloroso. Oloroso is a complex oak and oxygen influenced wine, fortified to a minimum of 17 percent alcohol. Fino has a lower level of fortification, to a minimum of 15 percent, and thus is able to support a biological covering called ‘flor’. Flor ensures the aging sherry is protected from oxygen and matures into a delicate, complex and refreshing wine.
The solera is a system of fractional blending and aging that provides a wine with the complexity of age and brightness of youth. As the oldest wine is taken out, the solera is topped up with younger wines, so the older wines end up sharing their characteristics with the younger wines. Fino and Manzanilla are the sherries aged under flor, and they often average between four and seven years of age, with some as old as 10 years.
Fino vs Manzanilla sherry
Fino and manzanilla share many similarities, but their biggest difference is the town where they’re produced. Fino is produced by the bodegas (wineries) of Jerez de la Frontera, while Manzanilla can only be made on the coast in Sanlucar de Barrameda. By being so close to sea, the flor has the ability to grow more profusely which gives the wine a unique flavour profile.
While both are pale and bright, Fino has more citrus, apple and almonds with herbal undertones. Manzanilla is more delicate, with chamomile, green apple and bread dough aromatics as well as a refreshing, ever-so-slight salinity on the palate.
Drying out PX grapes in the sun
Also known as "PX", Pedro Ximénez is obtained from the overly ripe grapes of the same name which are dried in the sun to obtain a must with an exceptionally high concentration of sugar. Its oxidative aging process gives the wine a progressive aromatic concentration and greater complexity, while preserving the signature freshness of the variety. Pedro Ximénez is probably the sweetest wine in the world, but its complexity of aroma and flavour make it fresh and harmonious on the palate
Start drinking sherry!
Sherry remains severely under-appreciated by most wine drinkers despite being some of the most complex and historic wines available, as well as extremely good value given the age and quality.
We carry three sherry wines at City Cellars for you to get into this fine drink:
Tio Pepe Extra Dry Fino Sherry
750 ml, $21.49
Tio Pepe en Rama
750 ml, $30.99
Gonzalez Byass Nutty Solera
750 ml, $18.49
Learn more about Sherry Week tastings, blogs and resources about sherry from around the world at https://www.sherry.wine/sherryweek.